11 NOVEMBER 2013

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Arik upgrades to Lagos

Nigeria’s largest airline, and the biggest in West Africa, Arik Air, has increased the size of its fleet to 23 aircraft and boosted its daily London to Lagos route, with the introduction of a pair of new Airbus A330-200 twins.

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Brussels and Vueling

Vueling Airlines, now part of IAG, and a sister company of British Airways, is in an expansion mood with plans to double its Brussels Airport throughput for next summer.  The airline will launch seven new routes.  Ibiza, Lisbon, Oporto, Palma de Mallorca, Rome, Santiago de Compostela and Venice.

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Iberia problems

Operating profits (as opposed to net profits) at IAG more than doubled in the third quarter due in part to a recovery at Iberia, adding to a strong performance from Vueling.  Iberia remains a sore spot, however, and Group Chief Executive Willie Walsh warned there was still work to be done, noting that the impact of low-cost airlines and high-speed trains in Spain has hit Iberia's business hard during five years of economic recession and stagnation.

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New HQ for Loganair

Loganair, presently very much an ‘under cover’ airline, its public persona is Flybe, is to move early in the new year from its present Glasgow Airport site close by the terminal building to a 14,100sq ft suite at nearby Cirrus Business Park which will also house a pilot training centre.

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WOW to Boston

WOW air, the Icelandic based low-cost carrier, will add transatlantic flights to its schedule with the launch of services to Boston in spring 2014.  The airline plans to market Gatwick – Boston direct using Reykjavik (KEF) as a short stopover.  It is already established on the Gatwick – Reykjavik route with twice daily flights.

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COMMENT: Davies Is it taking too long?

When the Prime Minister cancelled Heathrow’s third runway on coming to power in 2010 the air transport industry was distressed.  London desperately needed more runway capacity and a solution seemed a long way off.

The appointment of the Airport Commission in September 2012 was at least a step forward but two vital years had been wasted.

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Aeroplane is an antique

Just like a bus Classic Air Force at Newquay – Cornwall Airport is never on TV, and then its aircraft appear twice, on BBC2.
 
Last week one of the “living museum’s” Hunting Percival Jet Provosts featured in “Cold War – Hot Jets” (Friday 8 November).

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BA pre-flight retail orders

Going on a British Airways long haul flight?  Fancy ordering some truly duty free goods without the need to lug the items through the terminal?  The prices are keen with VAT 69 blended whisky at only £10.  And you will be first with your order.  No danger of a ‘sold out' sign.

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Business Travel Show

Online visitor and hosted buyer registration is now open for the Business Travel Show. The event, Europe’s main exhibition for bringing together more than 6,000 buyers and more than 200 suppliers in the corporate travel market, takes place from 4-5 February 2014 at Earls Court in London.  It will be the last large exhibition to take place at the venue.

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Dubai Airshow preview

The biennial Dubai Airshow will welcome up to 150 aircraft on the static display next week (17 to 21 November) with some appearing for the first time in the Middle East.  The show moves to a new purpose-built home at Dubai World Central (DWC), close by the new terminal building.

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Flybe results

Now under new management (See BTN 7 October) Flybe has today (11 November) posted its half year accounts for six months until 30 September, the first results of what it calls its “turnaround” plan.

The Group made an operating profit before restructuring costs but after joint venture results of £12.2m (2012/13) operating loss of £1m). After restructuring costs, the Group’s operating profit was £8.9m (H1 2012/13) operating loss of £1m).

With the resignation of Jim French (see Jim French leaves Flybe in this issue), Flybe has a new Non-Executive Chairman, City veteran Simon Laffin, Chairman of Assura Group Ltd and Chairman of the Audit Committee at Quintain Estates & Development Plc.  He was part of the Northern Rock rescue team.

Mr Laffin announced up to 500 job losses (out of around 2,600 but this includes the already announced closure of the Gatwick base). “We will make Flybe the best local airline in Europe. This is ambitious, but achievable provided that we can transform our cost base and efficiency now”.  He said that the joint subsidiary Finnair JV is profitable and that four Q400s were flying under wet lease for Brussels Airways.  www.flybe.com

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Heathrow T5 roadworks

Overnight work to improve safety on the spur road from the M25 to Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 in West London will begin today (Monday 11 November).  The work will take place for five nights from 22:00 to 05:30.  Passenger traffic at this time is minimal.

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Jim French leaves Flybe

The master conjurer, Jim French, has stepped down as Chairman of Flybe after failing to pull off the ultimate trick of turning a privately owned airline into a high flyer on the London Stock Market.

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Lord Waterpark

Caryll Waterpark, for many years Sales Director of CSE Aviation at Oxford Airport when that company was Britain’s leading general aviation operator, has passed on at the age of 87.  With 11,000 hours in his log book, a massive total for a non-airline pilot, he had enormous experience of all types of planes and was responsible for the first certification of a Learjet and the introduction of Embraer into the UK. 

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Ryanair's profit drop

Business Travel News got it right.  Ryanair has more or less admitted that it is the “world’s most annoying airline”.  All this is to change says the airline, but passengers (and media) will have to wait and see. 

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” was an expression at a recent press conference.

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ON TOUR: World Travel Market

It has taken 34 years but World Travel Market has really got itself organised in terms of layout.  There are two massive halls at the Excel venue, each 600m long and 23m wide separated by The Boulevard which for this show serves as part of the experience.  

Reed Exhibitions has had a rethink regarding the floor plan putting mainly Europe in the North Hall, with the rest of the world in well signposted sections in the South Hall.  It worked excellently and made finding stands easy.

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AND FINALLY: More Berlin airport problems

It seems that not only is the German capital having problems completing its new airport (see BTN 4 November) but the good citizens can’t even agree on a name.

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An Airline. But which airline?

Air New Zealand has signed a deal licensing its Skycouch seat product to a large airline based in Asia.  No doubt we will learn in the fullness of time.  Some years back ANZ did the reverse, buying the Upper Deck product from Virgin Atlantic.

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British Government to strip GA red tape

The Government and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have announced plans to strip away unnecessary bureaucracy from the UK General Aviation (GA) sector. 

Laurie Price, who knows his way around Westminster from his period as Aviation Adviser, House of Commons Transport Select Committee, is to Chair what is termed ‘The Challenge Panel’ due to report by April 2014.

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IAG changes

Luis Gallego and Keith Williams are to stand down from the International Airlines Group (IAG) Board to focus on their responsibilities at Iberia and British Airways.

Iberia’s Chief Executive, Luis Gallego, will also become the Spanish airline’s Chairman, while BA’s Chief Executive, Keith Williams, adds the chairmanship of the UK carrier to his role.  Both will continue to report to IAG’s Chief Executive, Willie Walsh.

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Jakarta Best Western

Best Western International (BWI) has continued its rapid expansion in Indonesia with the launch of a new hotel in Jakarta – Best Western Hariston. 

The timing is ideal with Garuda opening up a service to London next May. (See BTN 4 November)

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London's Lanesborough closes

One of London’s truly luxurious hotels is to close for the majority of 2014.  Located on Hyde Park Corner and once a distinguished teaching hospital the Lanesborough has announced that it will shut for “an extensive renovation project” on 20 December.

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ME adds Majorca and Ibiza

Following ME by Meliá’s successful launch of ME London in March this year the lifestyle brand will now grow its ME Resorts offering in Europe with two launches in the Balearics.
 
Located on a beautiful bay in Santa Eulalia, ME Ibiza (June 2014) has direct access from the boat to the hotel.  The property has 200 guest rooms, including 21 ME+ suites, some of which enjoy private Jacuzzis and swimming pools and, as with all ME hotels, the ultra-luxurious Suite ME.  All guest rooms have sumptuous bedding, bathrooms with spa-like rain showers.

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